Police Athletic League Making a Comeback in Savannah

While the number of children committing crimes is on the rise in Chatham County, local police officers are trying to help keep kids on the right path. You may have heard of the Police Athletic League. There are 350 chapters nationwide.

It used to be a popular program in Savannah that paired cops with kids. Then it lost funding. But now police have revitalized it and hope to make it as strong as ever.

More than a dozen kids at Cloverdale Park on Savannah's west side are learning the basics of baseball.

"He is enthusiastic, he's thrilled, he loves sports," said Angela Cokley, whose eight-year-son Christopher joined the league last fall. He played football, then basketball. and now is warming up for baseball season.

His coaches are cops.

Lt. Devon Adams is one of the Savannah-Chatham police officers who wanted to bring the league back to local kids. "To dispel the myth we are untouchable and that it is us against them and to let them know that we are there to help them and are a tool and resource to improve their quality of life," he said.

Renee Brown just found out about the league and right away signed up her son Ramonte. "He's young and a lot of kids in my neighborhood don't show a positive impact on each other, so I wanted to get him into something that will take up his time besides school."

The Police Athletic League teaches kids more than a game of baseball or about sports. All the kids are required to attended workshops on conflict resolution and how to be a team player throughout life.

"It's great," said Cokley. "It shows police officers want to get involved with the kids to strengthen them and nurture them from kids all the way up to when they are teenagers."

Police say this is just one program that helps keep kids on the playgrounds and out of prisons. The police officers in the Police Athletic League coach kids on their own time, and some of the them even went though the program when they were kids.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com